The design team at Rüsselsheim say the new name reflects the sleeker grand tourer nature of the car compared to the original 2008 car. And yes the new car is a lot sleeker than the outgoing machine… but that name – what a mouthful! Thankfully the badge on the back says just Insignia so that’s what we’ll call it… unless it’s the Grand Tourer – that is the estate version! Car makers please stop with the silly names, its bad enough with the premium brands taking the Micky, so please don’t join in.
New Insignia will come in two body shapes a hatchback and estate. I went to Frankfurt to test the latest version of the machine that has sold over 940,000 examples and to meet the design and engineering team behind the new car.
So what’ new? Lots, is the short answer. Insignia is inspired by the stunning Monza show car that I had to be dragged out of! Insignia sits on a new platform the Epsilon 2 or EP2. It is lower, longer and wider than before and quite striking in the flesh.
Inside apart from a new dash and the latest version of Opel OnStar service, the big change is to rear passenger space. The stock photo of a model reading Motorhub on her iPad doesn’t really do service to the increase in space. Where once you’d find really poor headroom for adults there now is plenty (+8mm). The seats hip points have been lowered by about 30mm so you sit more in it and not ‘on it’ as with the outgoing machine. The new car is 175kgs lighter (-200kgs estate) and stiffer too. Real world fuel economy is improved across the board too by up to 10 per cent.
Front wheel drive and all wheel drive versions are available with petrol and diesel power. Opel Ireland says it expects about 40 per cent of sales to be petrol – a bold prediction considering the fleet market is still heavily diesel as VAT paid purchasing the oily fuel can be reclaimed unlike with petrol – even when it is used for business!
Test drives.First up was the famed 2 litre whisper diesel with 170hp and 400nm fitted to a front wheel drive six speed manual. This cruised the autobahn with consummate ease and in comfort. It was in ‘Elite’ top grade trim and was fitted with the optional next generation FlexRide adaptive suspension. The default drive mode of three didn’t have a name or a button but let’s call it standard. It was just right, a press of a button in front of the gear lever selected ‘Tour’ and this mode softened the ride while the ‘Sport’ button did as you’d expect – stiffening and livening things up a bit. For the high mileage user the 2 litre is the insignia for you. A smaller oil burner with two power outputs is available. The excellent 1.6 litre diesel that is great in the Astra and Mokka X starts with an output of 110hp and for a few quid more you can get the 136hp version of the same unit.
Next I got behind the wheel of the big 5 door fitted with the new 1.5 litre ‘ecoTEC’ 165hp, 200nm, turbo petrol engine, again in front wheel drive manual form. This 1.5 is available in 140hp guise too. I should point out an 8 speed automatic is available as is an AWD version with 2 litre turbo petrol engine pushing out 260hp/400nm with torque vectoring fitted to aid handling – plus it has a tasty Bose sound system. My test car ran on standard suspension and was fitted with 18 inch wheels (17s are on the entry grade). The ride was not as good as the FlexRide setup and was set up to be more soft than sporty. It went where I pointed it and cornered well.
Technology is a key part of the new Insignia. Opel’s OnStar on line concierge service that it calls ‘a personal guardian angel’ now features the ability to book hotels and even parking – all done by a real human via the phone. A wifi hotspot features with the system and up to seven devices can pair to the car’s in built data sim. In its class Opel leads the way with this type of connectivity and only premium machines can rival it.
Opel gave me a great demo of the optional IntelliLux LED® matrix headlights that we first saw as an option on Astra. The maximum light throw range is now a whopping 400 metres, which I was told is as far as the human eye can make out detail at night time. Like many a premium machine these lights can shape themselves around other cars and light sources to maximise illumination and minimise dazzling of other road users.
The new dash is divided up in to three layers, each with its own bunch of controls. The button count has dropped and the ergonomics are vastly improved yet familiar as Opel. One novel Insignia USP in its class that may come to Ireland is the personalisation option of ‘Exclusive’. This allows for a great deal of individualisation like bespoke paint colours that can be matched to a sample of a colour or object from the customer e.g. a handbag or suit. SC is the entry grade followed by SE, SRi and Elite. OnStar Personal Assistant with Wi-Fi is standard as is Carplay/Android Auto and keyless entry and start. My test cars were all top spec and in Ireland that means they were the Elite grade with some optional extras fitted on top.
2017 is a busy year for Opel with 7 new models being launched in Europe and six of those coming to Ireland (the Ampera EV as of now is not being built in RHD). New Insignia is due in Ireland in June and the Insignia estate is due about a month later. Prices start from €27,350 for the SC, 1.5-140hp. There is a €2K price walk with the 1.5 to SRI/SE grade (both €29,350) and a little more to Elite at €31,595. Diesels start from €29,350 for the SC, 1.6 litre-110hp. €33,850 is the starting point for the 2 litre diesel in SRi trim. The auto option is a big jump to €36,050 (SRI). The range topper is the AWD Elite at €42,595.
From my day’s testing in Germany I can safely say Insignia will strongly challenge the usual suspects like Avensis, Mondeo and Passat. Insignia delivers a lot of kit for your buck.